13 April 2008

Religiosity

My initial theme here was the difference between Europe and America. One of the most obvious is the importance of religion in America. Various explanations have been put forward for this difference, but mostly they do not account for the discrepancy.

I used to claim that everyone in England who seriously believed in God ran away to America to get away from the Tudors, but that doesn't explain the rest of Europe.

I have heard it suggested that the welfare state in Europe has displaced religion, but that is too recent to account for a difference in religiosity that is much more longstanding.

I am inclined to a much simpler explanation: religions in America are more successful because they are privatised by the constitution. While the history of religion in Europe is one of religions fighting for state power with which to eliminate the competition, American churches have concentrated their efforts on appealing to the population.

If the US Constitution included an amendment that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of education, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", then I believe the US would have the most successful schools in the world to go with the most successful churches in the world.

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